Matchstick model hits the heights

TOWERING ACHIEVEMENT: Matchstick model maker Norman Ridley with this 7ft 4in version of the Eiffel Tower.
TOWERING ACHIEVEMENT: Matchstick model maker Norman Ridley with this 7ft 4in version of the Eiffel Tower.
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HE helped oversee massive hydraulic machines during his career as an engineer.

Now pensioner Norman Ridley is using his construction skills to create matchstick masterpieces.

The 76-year-old, from New Lambton, spent four months on his latest model, using 10,000 matchsticks to make a 7ft 4in version of the Eiffel Tower.

Norman set himself the challenge after he returned from an exhibition in Torquay where he showed a 4ft version of the Paris monument commissioned by the Hobby’s craft shop, which he completed in weeks.

The two structures are the first landmark he has recreated, after a string of reproductions of vehicles, including motorbikes with sidecars and tricycles.

Norman – who returned to his native North East after spending nearly six decades in London overseeing the work of heavy machines – spent about four hours a day on the tower, which has a base measuring 30in across.

The modeller, who has made matchstick models for about four years, said: “After I came home from Torquay I thought ‘what can I do now?’ It’s taken quite a while and a lot of work.

“When I finished it I thought it was great and I want to show it off.

“I’ve got it in a bedroom upstairs, but I’m looking for a home for it.”

Norman is considering recreating a scaled-down model of Penshaw Monument as his next project and is to visit the Wearside landmark as he begins to draw up plans.

While he and thousands of other model-makers enjoy putting together their works using craft sticks and PVA glue, he concedes the past- time is not for everyone.

He added: “When people come round, they’re not too enthusiastic. But I enjoy doing it and it’s interesting to do.”

Anyone who would like to give the Eiffel Tower a new home can contact the Echo on 581 0516.

Twitter: @EchoEastDurham